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Andalusian Gazpacho for the soul

Andalusian Gazpacho

It's tomato week here at the Kite house. It's been about 4 months since Vance and I had two "normal" weeks together, home alone, without travel, without company, without places to go and hotels to stay in — so I finally had a chance to plan the Saturday through Thursday meals (Friday we let someone else cook). Suffice it to say that the week's produce haul included at least $15 worth of local heirloom tomatoes.

On top of being tomato week, it's also veggie week. Durham has so many local, sustainable options for meat that we've been consuming far more than our usual share of land animals. Acme, Six Plates, Dos Perros, and Piedmont (to name a few) have treated us well, but also left us with the urge to drink copious amounts of ginger tea at the end of the night. With that in mind, we're eating plenty of grain salad, soup and veg for a few days.

In preparation for our first Relevance "family" dinner, we're also cooking our way through the menu, starting with the gazpacho. This Andalusian gazpacho is one I served to Vance when he took a train from Florida for our third anniversary. It's silky smooth and deceptively simple. Serve it with some crusty bread and a bit of olive oil for a light meal that will leave you feeling refreshed.

Classic Andalusian Gazpacho

This recipe comes straight from the beloved Gourmet Magazine. Use the best ingredients you can find and have a good-sized food processor or blender on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 (2-inch-long) piece baguette, crust discarded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar (preferably "reserva"), or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 2 1/2 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1/2 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Andalusian hojiblanca)
  • Garnish: finely chopped red and green bell peppers

Preparation

Soak bread in 1/2 cup water 1 minute, then squeeze dry, discarding soaking water.

Mash garlic to a paste with salt using a mortar and pestle (or mince and mash with a large knife). Blend garlic paste, bread, 2 tablespoons vinegar, sugar, cumin, and half of tomatoes in a food processor until tomatoes are very finely chopped. Add remaining tomatoes with motor running and, when very finely chopped, gradually add oil in a slow stream, blending until as smooth as possible, about 1 minute.

Force soup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing firmly on solids. Discard solids.

Transfer to a glass container and chill, covered, until cold, about 3 hours. Season with salt and vinegar before serving.

Silky Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Crisps

[caption id="attachment_581" align="aligncenter" width="545" caption="Look for firm, creamy-white florets that are tight and without brown speckles."][/caption]

For the first time in weeks, Vance and I have gotten to go to our Saturday farmer's market. It's one of those farmer's markets that's open year-round and serves fruits and veggies that could be from anywhere (most are not from within 100 miles). But we have to go to get our bagel fix from Davis Bakery (which has since been sold and will never be the same but we try not to think about that too much). Anyway, I consider it a bit of a personal challenge whenever we go to find something local to take home.

This week, it was cauliflower. Cauliflower's one of those things that's a bit of a blank canvas. You can roast it, eat it raw, cut it like steak and smother it in tomato sauce, turn it into low-carb mashed potatoes, or whazz it up into a luscious, creamy soup. Today, as part of our monthly Fancy Feast, I decided to do the latter.

[caption id="attachment_582" align="aligncenter" width="545" caption="The finished soup and parmesan tuile."][/caption]


This was served among five other dishes in a tapas style spread, all but one of which were total winners (if you're lucky, I'll be disciplined enough to get them all posted to the blog!) Somehow this simple, fast soup made it to the top of Vance's list — the top two of mine. And now that I know how simple and delicious it is, it'll be appearing on our menu just about as often as I can snag some local cauliflower from the market.

Silky Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Crisps

This recipe is David Lieberman's, but it's likely to make it into next year's cookbook in some form or fashion. It's dead easy to make if you have an immersion blender. Use caution if you're planning to throw it all in a blender!

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the parmesan crisps:

  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • Chopped chives, for garnish

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Prepare the soup. Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a hand held immersion blender, puree the soup, or puree in small batches in a blender* and return it to the pot. Add the Parmesan and stir until smooth.

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Local Kale, Sweet Potato, and Sausage Soup

This month, Vance and I threw together our first family cookbook. It's scheduled to arrive this Tuesday from Blurb, and I am probably disproportionately excited about it. When the Fed Ex guy rings the doorbell I imagine myself running full sprint through the office, knocking over whoever might be in the way, to get to the door first. Imagine what I'll do when I actually write a "real" cookbook!

I've already started thinking about next year's edition. I want each of the recipes to be an original, which is a huge undertaking for me. I'm very comfortable following someone else's instructions, knowing it was good enough when they made it to publish in a book or magazine; it's another thing entirely for me to conjure a recipe on my own.

I'm also planning to make it more seasonal and locally oriented, featuring whatever happens to be growing around us at the time. With all that in mind, I present to you the first recipe for the 2011 Kite Cafe cookbook.

Local kale and squash soup, in preparation for whatever sinful foods we'll eat at the @IZEA Xmas party tonight!

I shall call this "the one that made me feel better about that lobster mac 'n cheese." Or, "the one that takes more calories to prepare than it does to burn off" (okay, maybe that's a bit of a stretch). Or how about, "the one that contained kale and didn't set off my gag reflex." I think I've really got something with that last one.

Sweet Potato, Kale, and Sausage Soup

Serves 4-6 This recipe features locally grown kale, sweet potatoes, and tomato. If tomatoes aren't growing near you this type of year, you can skip them. They were just sitting on the counter, begging to be thrown into the soup last minute.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale
  • 1 tomato, cut into large dice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock would also work)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lb. your favorite bulk sausage (vegan if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Crispy onions (optional)

Preparation

Wash the kale. I like to do this in a water bath with a few splashes of white vinegar in a clean kitchen sink. It brightens the leaves and firms them up (especially if they've been in the fridge for a day or two). Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally for seven minutes. Add the garlic and sweet potato; stir to combine. Sprinkle generously with cracked pepper. Reduce heat to medium. While the vegetables are cooking away, de-stem your kale. Stack up all of the kale leaves and cut into thin ribbons, about 1/3 inch wide. Add all of the kale to the pot; stir to combine. Add the wine and wait about 30 seconds, until the sizzling subsides. Stir in the water and stock.

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